Hey, meta fans! Pete Muller’s Monthly Music Meta has begun its 2023 run with January’s puzzle, released on Tuesday. Visit pmxwords.com for more.
Hal Moore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take Notes”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar phrases have the word THAT hidden within and are presented in the Down direction. The revealer is “WRITE THAT DOWN” (19d, [Teacher’s directive, and a hint to 4-, 10-, 27- and 33-Down]). (I can’t read that revealer without hearing it in the voice of Mr. Johnson, my high school geometry teacher.)
- 4d. [Origin of most hurricanes] NORTH ATLANTIC.
- 10d. [Potentially beneficial] WORTH A TRY.
- 27d. [Brit’s personal dislike] PET HATE.
- 33d. [Topper with a sloping brim] BUCKET HAT.
Solid theme. Nice choice of entries although PET HATE was new to me. I enjoyed learning it though since it sounds even more oxymoronic than our own “pet peeve.”
Lovely long fill in STAR WARS, TINKER TOY, BEACH BUM, ONE-SEATER, “DEAR BOY,” and ORBITER. I needed nearly all of the crosses for CEREBRO [“X-Men” device], though. That’s a deep cut, even for someone whose seen numerous Marvel films and once collected comic books. (The device is used by Professor Xavier to telepathically locate mutants wherever they are in the world.)
Still, given that there are five theme answers squished into the middle of the grid (due to the fact that the revealer is 13-letters long) with two pairs of them partially stacked, the fill is quite smooth indeed.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Only vice president born in Washington, D.C.]. AL GORE. Nice bit of trivia.
- 50a. [There’s one in this club]. TYPO. Haha, yeah, no there isn’t. You can’t intentionally make a TYPO.
- 42d. [Like some moody, mysterious heroes]. BYRONIC. I don’t think this English major ever heard the term BYRONIC Hero. Also, this English major never claimed to be a good English major.
Good puzzle with very nice fill. 3.75 stars.
Victor Barocas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Perjury is the inspiration for this theme, where the revealer is LIES / UNDER / OATH, 70a. [With 71- and 72-Across, commits perjury … or what can be found four times in this puzzle]. The circled squares spotlight the word LIE beneath an assortment of circled OATHs of a family-friendly nature: GOSH, EGAD, DRAT, and DANG. (You’d need an indie venue to feature those other four-letter oaths.)
I’m multitasking with the Golden Globes on, so I’ll be brief. Three things:
- 30d. [One who doesn’t have a prayer?], ATHEIST. I’m on board with that.
- 23d. [Absorbed gradually], OSMOSED. This clue feels a little off target to me, but Dr. Barocas teaches chemical engineering so I’ll have to assume he signed off on it!
- 34d. [Some spreads for toast, informally], OLEOS. How many OLEOS is too many? Really, even one is too much for me.
3.5 stars from me. It’s always more fun when there’s some play going on in the theme answers themselves, rather than “here are words and phrases that happen to have the right letter sequence in them.” I’m looking at you, BOND RATIO!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Lift Truck” — Emily’s write-up
Today’s theme took me a little bit after the solve to puzzle out but I enjoyed it and the rest of the fill.
Theme: each downs themer contains —RIG— going up
- 5d. [Notre Dame’s sports team], FIGHTINGIRISH
- 9d. [Hairstyling tool], CURLINGIRON
- 25d. [Major Congo tributary], UBANGIRIVER
- 30d. [Maki sushi often served with eel sauce], UNAGIROLL
Fair crossings for anyone who doesn’t know the FIGHTINGIRISH off-hand (it took me a few to remember it). I always like the idea of a CURLINGIRON must never mastered it and needed a full bottle of hairspray to get my hair to stay sadly so I no longer have one. UBANGIRIVER also has another spelling: Oubangui River. One of my favorite sushi is the UNAGIROLL, which is usually served warm since the eel is cooked. From the theme hint in the title, I figured that the themers were in the downs today but I started by looking at the endings and trying to combine them with “truck”, then I thought about looking for different types of trucks going up and noticed RIG vertically in all of them. Often, semi trucks are referred to as “big rigs” ands the title hint implying a truck being lifted (or raised up).
Favorite fill: UNAGIROLL, CROSSWORD, ALLTHERAGE, and STEPONIT
Stumpers: WHIFF (“odors”, “smell”, and “aroma” came to mind first), RANG (“ding”, “dong”, “bong”, “ping”—too many options for me), and WHAM (cluing just didn’t get me there today)
Lots of stumpers today that tripped me up just enough to make this a longer solve. Seemed like there were many options with some of the cluing which then I had to wait for crossings for process of elimination. Overall, still enjoyed the puzzle very much, well except now I’m craving sushi. Mmm.
Good morning, friends! I started off super strong with this puzzle, dropping in HYGGE with no crosses (thanks, Frozen). And I DID A THING is a phrase I associate with people graduating from college in 2017ish. Or getting a dramatic hair cut!! I would be fine never hearing this phrase ever again.
PAD SEE EW / SKIN CARE was another great stack. I am in a new city currently and the water / air here is making my skin different and I am trying to figure out how to deal with it. Some of the harder short fill for me included FER, EOM, TORME, ATRA, ANIMA, GST, and RSA.
Tom Pepper & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Tom Pepper & C.C. Burnikel’s offering today features a simple enough theme concept. MAL is added to the start of phrases, and we have the “new, improved” style of clue to go with. IMO, these phrases felt more stilted than usual for this type of theme:
- [Soft feathers on a croquet implement?], (MAL)LETDOWN
- [Negotiations over the ingredients of a milkshake?], (MAL)TEDTALKS
- [Place to park one’s spiteful feelings?], (MAL)ICESHELF
- [Karl’s years with the Utah Jazz?], (MAL)ONETIME
- [Anti-harassment movement], METOO. “Harassment” sounds a bit bowdlerized?
- [Some unauthorized creations], FANART. Another up-to-date touch.
- [“Shea Butter Baby” singer-songwriter Lennox], ARI. Platinum single that didn’t chart; there are a lot of those, which suggests the charts don’t reflect popularity as well as they should? Pretty much any artist that doesn’t fit in very narrow radio formats won’t appear in the charts…
- [Baby photographer Geddes], ANNE. Famous kitsch…
- [Common email attachment], PDFFILE. The F is for format, so it isn’t tautological